This Day in History: Farmington Mine Explosion Kills 78 Miners

FarmingtonOn November 20, 1968, 40 50 years ago today, 78 miners died in an explosion at the Consol No. 9 coal mine in Farmington, West Virginia.

At 5:30 in the morning on November 20th, a huge explosion tore through Consolidation Coal’s Number Nine mine. The force of the blast could be felt for miles. There would be dozens of other explosions in the days to come and intense fires. Ninety-nine miners were underground at the time; 21 managed to make it to the surface, the other 78 all died. Nineteen bodies were never recovered.

More information here, a NIOSH oral history here,  and a 2006 NPR story here.

Major mining disasters such as the Farmington coal mine explosion and the Sunshine Mine fire in 1972 led to the Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act of 1969 and the Federal Mine Safety and Health Amendments Act of 1977.

Mine Safety MSHA

3 Comments

  1. The USA has made great strides in work place safety and health, and WV coal miners, like workers in other states were catalysts for work place safety standards. As a result of the OSH Act and MSH Act industries have made work processes safer, engineered out many hazards through engineering and technology. College and Universities have developed academic degree programs in occupational safety and health…and safety management. Currently, 4,000 safety jobs go unfilled a year as higher education only graduates 1,000 safety professionals per year. There are safety and health professional development organizations that promote training, outreach and program development in every state of the union. There are OSHA educational centers in every region teaching safery and health every day. Construction trade associations and Construction Labor Unions have local, state and national safety committees that meet monthy, quarterly to address safety issues. There is online safety training, programs, policies and procedures. We have never in the history of the USA had more PEOPLE managing safety in industry. OSHA is an antiquated agency which takes 7-15 yrs to get a standard written and go final. The marketplace has bypassed OSHA. During the Clinton Administration OSHA was sending its personnel to private industry training so personnel actually understood the hazards they are inspecting for. Also under Clinton and Bush OSHA formed alliances and partnerships btw labor, government and industry as they recognized the COMMON SENSE of everyone working together. You all wiped those relationships out. I drafted and negotiated the partnership and the Construction Health and Safety Excellence (CHASE) for contractors to enter into local partnering agreements. You folks wiped a very progressive program out and ruined relationships that took 20 years in the making. Pleasw Jordan, get out,walk jobs….go get a safety job, perhaps your perspective will be more authentic. We always have a ways to go, but your blog often is an insult to the hundreds or millions of PEOPLE who are doing their best to help companies comply and manage safety. Companies investing big bucks in protecting people. Often times though, we can not protect people from themselves.

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